George III Chippendale period mahogany breakfront bookcase

Stock Code: 2165 - SOLD

Description: A superb and rare George III Chippendale period mahogany breakfront kneehole bookcase, retaining excellent original colour and patina. The upper section with the double sized central section, flanked each side by another bookcase section with octagonal astragal glazed doors. Inside there is an arrangement of adjustable shelves to each section.

Below the break fronted central section, a secretaire drawer opening to reveal an arrangement of pigeon holes and drawers and bordered by vertical blind fret columns, further blind fretwork to the inside section and with a fretwork ears to the top. To the outside of the lower section a pair of panelled doors one enclosing a drawer and adjustable divisions for folios, the other with five drawers standing on a plinth base. The bookcase has a moulded cornice with central broken pediment which is supported with intricate fretwork and also has a delicately carved fretwork centre piece.

Further Information: It is not uncommon during the latter half of the 18th century for library bookcases to incorporate a hidden surface for writing or examining books or maps. This was usually found within a drawer which when drawn out revealed a flat baize or leather inset slide above small compartments or as in the present case a false drawer front which hinged to reveal small compartments and a writing surface.

It is rare however to have a bookcase with an aperture to the centre as in the present example. Possibly it was conceived to contain a table which could be moved out or it could simply have been designed purely as a kneehole. Gentleman's libraries of this period were often furnished with book cabinets, desks, tables and chairs, commissioned as a group from a single cabinet maker in consultation with the architect responsible for the whole scheme. For example, Thomas Chippendale was obviously aware of the William Chamber's sketch for a chimney piece for the library at Pembroke House, Whitehall, London, the details of which clearly influenced his design of a library table made for the same room. It is interesting to compare this bookcase with that eventually supplied by Chippendale as the principal bookcase also incorporates a kneehole recess like the present example, illus. Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, p.148, pl. 66, p.42.

The blind fret carving on the present bookcase also appears in many of Chippendale's designs and the overall form relates to one of his designs for a library bookcase, see Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet- Maker's Director, 3rd Edition, 1763, pl. XCI.

Condition: Excellent. Minor restorations, waxing. The brassware apparently original. Fretwork ears to kneehole restored.

Country of Origin: England

Origin/Age: English, George III, circa 1760

Provenance: With John Kiel of H.W. Kiel of Broadway, Worcestershire and Knightsbridge, London.

Maker: in the manner of Thomas Chippendale

Dimensions: Height 95.00 inches (241.30cm) Width 91.50 inches (232.41cm) Depth 20.50 inches (52.07cm)

Price: £47,500